The South Australian Circle of Hell, 2017
Our littoral is a burning shore – lit by a million candles. The water burns. The air burns. The wind is uncomfortably warm. The rain is as blood. Drones hover. Wind turbines whine uselessly. Our power-grid hangs on a fraying thread, all insulation melted away. Water bursts through the earth on the hour, coursing water, vermin and ordure into homes and shops. Infrastructure crumbles. Bridges fall. Black dust swirls and eddies about once pristine sands.
Our old folks are bound, gagged, doused with turpentine and they scream with pain. We await the wintry day when the crippled and ill shall walk the road to Calvary and wail “Sitio” (‘I thirst’) as they collapse, shy of Golgotha (the NRah, or new hospital, the pristine, empty, patient-free and contingent, third most expensive, feather-bedded and error-ridden public building in the world). Outside soon-to-be decommissioned, creaking facilities with actual patients, the sick and injured shiver on ramps. FIFO executives swing-by on tours of duty and leave with our diminishing booty.
Our factories are silent. Our jails overflow. Our Supreme Court’s decisions are looked at, askance, by the High Court. Our core public institutions are a national joke. Our roads empty early, leaving space for the devil-doughnut-drivers and Gang of 49. The police stick to soft targets. Like Howard Beale’s crushed legion, we just want to be left alone with our couch and our TV and our steel-belted radials. We circle a gigantic plughole.
In fact, the populace defecates on an altar and refuses all substitutes. Circuses trump culture. Cynicism overbears the circus. We are harassed by advertising to the effect that we have never had it so good, that we are to blame, that we need to give more, to complain less, to step up, to go green, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. Weather All to Blame. The Feds all to Blame. Goldstein is to Blame.
Water, power, petrol, pharmaceutical, land and plasma rationing are imminent. Streets close. Towns close. We are near to “there is no such thing as society.”
Our young crawl to the water’s edge and drink the brine, because they don’t know the difference. Everyone is drinking too much to forget they are drinking too much. Tongues swell and blacken, minds shrivel and slacken.
Our leaders are out of gas; out of ideas, out of confidence, out of excuses, out of money and, lethally, out of luck. They rule from silos, in denial, disillusion and despair. They hate, fear, distrust and despise their own polity. They fiddle, take long leave, ignore Westminster principles, approbate and reprobate, ravenously eat their own (like Screwtape or Goya’s Saturn). Having the benefit of a gerrymander for the century so far, they stake their electoral future on filling a hospital, emptying a gaol, keeping the lights and a/c on over summer, monstering some pariahs, and having the Adelaide Crows and Port Power reach the finals.
We are in the cockpit of decline, the laboratory of dead enlightenment, the petri-dish of command-and-control dictatorship, where we’re managed and finessed by clever and conscienceless morons. It is our second coming, and it is the apocalypse. As W. B. Yeats wrote:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
And as Dante, passing through (illegally, in an Uber) would exclaim:
“Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”